Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chair Reuel Khoza says the state-owned asset manager has identified a candidate to replace Dan Matjila as CEO as it pushes ahead with the process of restructuring and recovery from governance failures identified in the Mpati commission.

"We have identified an individual that we think is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the candidates, and we have recommended this person to the government for their endorsement," Khoza told Business Day.

The PIC, which manages more than R2-trillion, mainly for government workers, has also advertised for the roles of chief investment officer, chief technology officer, chief operations officer, and a chief ethics officer.

The commission released damning findings two weeks ago on malfeasance and impropriety at the institution, the single biggest investor on the JSE, and made recommendations about how it should be structured optimally.

The board had assembled a task team of external specialists to assist with the restructuring ahead of the arrival of the new CEO, Khoza said.

"We are in the process of putting together a panel of advisers who are specialists in their own right and who understand the key considerations for coming up with such a model."

The panel would work full-time on the recommendations made by the commission in conjunction with the board and a new executive leadership team, a process that Khoza said might take at least six months.

It would also oversee the PIC’s attempts to recover money that it said was invested improperly, including nearly R10bn that it lent to entities under the control of former trade union leader Jayendra Naidoo to buy shares in Steinhoff and Pepkor. The PIC is also seeking to recover money from Ayo Technology Solutions, an entity controlled by Iqbal Survé, after paying just more than R4bn for a 29% stake.

The PIC’s chief financial officer, Matshepo More, remains suspended and is at present going through a disciplinary process. Khoza expected an update on the matter shortly which, together with the conclusion of other disciplinary processes, should help lift the mood at the organisation.

"The morale is not as high as it could be. There are a number of individuals that need to be spoken to by way of discipline, and a few companies that need to be dealt with. So there are a few individuals within the organisation who are anxious, and that might be inimical to achieving high morale."

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Matjila intended to publicly "detail what he sees as omissions and misunderstandings made by the commission".

The commission — in which Lex Mpati, former judge-president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, was assisted by former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus and prominent asset manager Emmanuel Lediga — found that Matjila had breached his fiduciary duties when approving investments in insolvent companies.

Khoza said it was Matjila’s perogative to do what he felt was right in his personal interest, "but he must also take into account what is in the national interest".

"The PIC faltered because its ethical conduct was questionable and that is where the corrosive effects and influences came in. Without ethics, it doesn’t matter how competent you are as an organisation, you will ultimately fail."

Khoza said the organisation had been mending fences with its biggest clients, among them the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) which entrusted it with more than R1.8- trillion. "We have become even more regular and rigorous in our relationship with them, making sure we deliver as expected in the manner they expect us to," Khoza said.

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